The Heavenly Turnip does not intend to profit from this absurd, degenerate tale. It knows that it didn't create Ranma 1/2 or Video Girl Ai, it merely wants to display its admiration before the world with this tribute. Praise Charles Townshend!
Chapter 2: Life Ain't Fair
Ranma placed the pig against his backpack gently. She watched it breathe for a moment and checked its pulse, not because she had to, but because she missed the feel of her own. What had happened to the both of them was so tragic she couldn't wrap her mind around it. It still didn't make sense. Why me? Why him?
She collected kindling and started the fire with a spark of ki. It actually was a spark, which would have been weird, if she were still human. She grabbed a passing rabbit, broke its neck, gutted it, and spitted it on the fire. She rummaged for Ryoga's mess kit in his pack and found it to be very well stocked. It was like a portable restaurant. She wouldn't have expected any less of Ryoga. She filled the kettle with water and placed it on a hot stone. He would need it when he woke up.
Would she have been doing this for her part-time friend if her new Video Girl nature was not influencing her? Probably, but she couldn't be sure. She worked efficiently with the ease of habit. Allowing her mind to wander…
Ranma knew he was underwater. He tried to break the surface, but there was an unseen barrier. Fear rose from the back of his throat. He needed to breathe. Then came the pain. He screamed silently. Water rushed into his lungs. He could feel his body contorting. The third spatial dimension was being torn away from him. He heard his heart stop, and felt his ki change. Walls were closing in on him. He was being boxed in, contained. The corners of his vision darkened. The ink washed over him, obscuring everything. Then all was black.
The chime of a machine turning on was the first thing Ranma heard. Before even opening his eyes he made a mental catalog of his physical state. A martial artist was always aware of his body, but it wasn't his body… it was her body. Furthermore, she had no pulse, and she didn't have to breathe if she didn't want to. Her ki felt funny. If an electric appliance could have an aura, it would be hers. All these conclusions were drawn in a fraction of a second.
None of this made any sense, but she had to open her eyes and face whatever bizarre situation she was confronted with. She dreaded it like nothing else in her life before.
She opened her eyes.
She saw the huge faces of her father and the Jusenkyo Guide pressed against a window. But she knew it wasn't a window, because she was in the window. She felt… flat. Genma's eyes contained dawning horror, and deep resigned sadness. The Guide merely looked curious. She decided to stop stalling and finally look at herself.
She only stopped screaming when she noticed the femininity of her voice, its soprano lilt and sharpness. She clutched her throat and made hacking noises. Tears burned trails down her cheeks. She looked back up at the men in the third dimension.
"Wa…Wa… happened? W-where am I?" Her voice was gentle and sweet. It was disturbing.
Genma simply stared, speechless. The Jusenkyo Guide was unfazed and began to explain enthusiastically.
"Ms. Customer fell into curse spring"
Ranma shuddered at the "Ms."
"Is too-too bad. Spring have tragic legend of videocassette. It drown three week ago."
"Me no know how happen. But you turn into videotape. Look."
The guide produced a photograph depicting an unmarked videotape. Ranma failed to realize its significance.
"This is Ms. Customer's real body. You are on screen, play on TV. You come to life when TV on. Funny, you play, but not look like having fun."
Ranma stared blankly.
"Sorry, bad joke."
Ranma recalled that a panda knocked her into the cursed spring "…but…Panda?"
Genma grimaced and finally spoke, "I'm the panda, Ranma."
Ranma stared, not comprehending.
The fat Chinese man poured his drink on Genma. A panda in Genma's dogi instantly replaced him. His glasses hung bent from one ear.
"GROWF!" the panda protested threateningly. The Guide ignored him.
"Cold water turn into panda, hot water back to man." The guide demonstrated by pouring his tea on the panda.
"OW! OW! Not so hot!"
A glimmer of hope began to flitter from someplace deep inside her.
"But Ms. Customer no change."
That hope was snuffed.
"Ms. Customer is videotape. Is electronic, yes? Electronic can no get wet. Is too-too bad."
"But, the spring."
"Magic water not same first time, but can't be in spring again. So spring drown boy no work."
"Curse mix, if tape fall in spring drown boy, maybe you be video boy instead! Or human girl, but Ms. Customer can't be wet, so no try."
"No! I mean, why can't I get wet!"
The Jusenkyo Guide produced a desk lamp and a clear bowl of water. He dunked the lamp into the bowl.
The slightly burnt Jusenkyo guide withdrew the lamp from the bowl. The light bulb had shattered.
"This hurt, yes?"
It was too much to take in. She curled up in fetal position, overwhelmed by the extent of her misfortune. She was a weak girl forever. She was stuck in a TV. Everything she had was gone. She looked up again.
"What now, Pops?"
Genma inspected his daughter closely for the second time. He could see the fear in her eyes. She was so beautiful, just like her mother. He sighed. He couldn't give up, not if he ever wanted to see his family united again.
She felt a confusing mixture of relief and pain at being called "Son".
"I can't take you back to Japan now. I can't ensure that you won't get wet. Especially when we swim the ocean… I'm going on a journey. I'll find a way to restore your true form. Goodbye, my Son."
He got up and left the range of Ranma's vision.
"POPS YOU IDIOT! DON'T LEAVE ME!"
She heard a door open and close, the finality of it stealing her anger. It was replaced by leaden weight in her stomach.
"…don't leave me here…"
The Guide pressed up close to the screen. His nose flattened against the glass. It made Ranma very uncomfortable.
"I bring Ms. Customer to Paradise Video Rental. They explain more."
"Ping" He pushed the power button.
All went black.
Ranma turned the rabbit over, making sure that the cute, fuzzy animal would be tender and an appetizing throughout. She was surprised at the strength of her appetite, just like when she was a man. She didn't expect to be so human in that respect. She drank from Ryoga's flask to quench her thirst. Hmm… tastes like Gatorade.
Stupid old panda.
She could handle this. She had to believe it. At least she could still fight. Her battle with Ryoga was evidence of that. Actually, her electric ki made her feel quick, alert, and vigorous. And without needing to breathe or beat her heart, she had two less weaknesses for enemies to exploit. But none of these could outweigh being something he was not.
She looked back at the small black piglet sleeping by the pack. A large red lump rose from its head. It was sleeping peacefully, but Ranma knew it was having bad dreams. She could feel them. What was that called? The ability to feel other people's feelings? Ampassy? Empathy? Vaginoplasty? It didn't matter. At least it was only Ryoga's emotions she could feel. Even though Video Girls can't fall in love, that level of connection was too intimate. It honestly frightened her.
Steam erupted from the teakettle's spout. Ranma took the kettle off the hot stone and poured the water into the thermos, so it would be hot when pork-butt wakes up. She giggled at the nickname. She slapped herself. Stop giggling! She sounded like a girl!
She supposed that knowing what Ryoga felt all the time would make it easier for her to help him find happiness, and all that crap.
The Rabbit was cooked. She slid it off the spit, took a piece of it and started to eat. Her eyes staring blank, as she continued to play the past in her mind's eye.
Ranma opened her eyes again, and saw the edges of the screen, and the face of a kindly old man with glasses and a mustache.
The events from the last time she was conscious played in the back of her mind quickly. She came to the most logical conclusion.
"This ain't real."
"Shut up! Just a bad dream."
"This is real Ranma"
"Magic ain't real. Curses ain't real. You ain't real."
She stopped rambling and looked at him.
"Denying the truth is only going to hurt you. Magic is real. I deal with it every day. Now please, except reality and allow me to explain what you are and what happened to you."
"Who are you?"
"My name is Hans Vittlesbach. I lived in Vienna until I took my job here at Paradise." He gestured to the multitude of shelves behind him. "I've been working here ever since."
The old man took some time considering his answer.
"A very long time"
Ranma thought this man looked elderly, but something about him made him look far older than his obvious 65 years.
"You are a Video Girl, Ranma"
"Thanks for the obvious, old coot."
"It is not a simple as you think. Look at all the shelves behind me. They all contain videotapes like yours, with Video Girls inside them."
"No, they are not cursed. They were made that way. It is all they know… Only the pure of heart can find this store, Ranma. They come here with weary hearts, and it is the Video Girls who console them."
"You mean I'm some touchy-feely slave girl or something!"
"In a way, but you retain your free will. You might not even have to do anything. your presence may be enough to provide solace."
"Solace for who?"
"Mostly young men."
This wasn't fair! Why her! It wasn't her job to make sure every stupid dunce in Asia was fine and dandy!
"WHY!" It wasn't a question.
"Ranma, I know you. I can see your soul. Your nature is that of a protector, and a warrior. You will do fine. I think you will find yourself doing the right thing out of the goodness of your heart."
"Ranma, please humor me. There is more you need to know."
Ranma nodded. This man seemed to be honest enough.
"You are electronic. So don't allow your body to touch water."
"But your corporeal form can."
"The body that you will have when you leave the TV. It is merely a projection of yourself, and it can interact with the world in ways that your videotape cannot. It can eat, sleep, drink, and simulate female biology."
"You mean, I can come outta the TV?"
"When you are rented, yes."
"Whaddabout my heart?"
"That function has not been simulated for sentimental reasons. Video Girls are incapable of falling in love."
A wave of relief passed over Ranma. Mr. Vittlesbach noticed.
"Did that concern you?" He inquired.
Ranma nodded reluctantly.
"Well, if you function correctly you have nothing to worry about. If you formed lasting attachments with the customer it would negatively impact his happiness when you have to be returned."
"I gotta be returned?"
"Yes, you have a limited play time, the length of your tape. You have an unusually long play time, 3000 hours, over four months."
"How long will this shit be?"
"What do you mean?"
Ranma merely shrugged
"If you take good care of yourself, you could live indefinitely… if we're on that topic, stay away from magnets, they can damage you."
"Okay, Old Geezer."
Mr. Vittlesbach smiled at this nickname as well. He really liked this young girl. Kami knows, it must be hard to deal with this situation. She was a real trooper.
"Do you want to know what you look like?"
Ranma simply stared back at him wearily.
"You have to find out at some point…"
The mustached man produced a small vanity mirror, and held it in front of him, facing the TV screen. Ranma's curiosity overpowered her fear and she took a long look at herself.
She looked very similar to the way she was when she was a boy, it's just that she wasn't one anymore. That much was obvious. She was gorgeous. Her body was perfect, centerfold worthy. She had a clear, kind face. Her beauty was inviting, not haughty and distant. If she were a man still, she would be hard pressed not to stare. Her hair was bright red, and about the same length as it was before, but it hung loose. She was going to put it back into a pigtail or ponytail later. The curlicues were bothersome; they looked far too cute. She tried to comb them out with her hands, but they sprung back. It looked like they were there to stay. She guessed she could tolerate the sci-fi clothes. They weren't obviously feminine in of themselves, but they certainly were on her body. However, that was something she couldn't change. Most of these things bothered Ranma a great deal, but one thing was comforting despite it all. Her eyes, and the cast of her features. They didn't change. She was still Ranma, just Chick-Ranma.
"I'm still me…"
"Yes, you are still Ranma. Always remember that. Goodnight, my child."
The TV was turned off.
Ryoga rolled over. Ranma sat crossed legged in front on the pig. She shook her head clear of the memories, and waited patiently for him to wake up. It wouldn't be long now.
Martial artists of Ryoga's caliber were always aware of their bodies, and something was wrong. He was lying on his side in a position that should be physically impossible, not to mention uncomfortable, but wasn't. The strength of sounds and smells was overwhelming. He smelled Ranma, and the rabbit. He could even smell the night, smelled like eight o'clock. The proportions of his body felt all wrong. The events of earlier that day played in his mind.
None of this made any sense. He was very reluctant to wake up, but he knew he had to at some point. The world is a dark and lonely place.
He opened his eyes
Ranma was seated in front of him and he was lying against his pack. She towered over him, but wasn't Ranma supposed to be really short now?
Wait… that wasn't his voice. That didn't even sound human…
"Ryoga, I had ta let you wake up like this, cause you needed ta know."
Needed to know what?
She sighed heavily, her hair swinging to the right side of her face. "Ryoga, you're a pig…"
Ryoga looked down at himself. What he had been denying with every fiber of his being was now painfully obvious, even to him.
When Ryoga paused from his squealing to catch his breath Ranma interjected, "Hey! You ain't stuck this way! Not like me…" She took the thermos of hot water and emptied it on the panicking black animal. A very naked human Ryoga appeared. He was too shocked to make a serious effort to conceal himself. He sat there gaping like a fish. It was a sight many girls would have liked to see. Ranma averted her eyes, blushing furiously. She wondered at her own response. Didn't she used to look a hell of a lot like Ryoga, and not that long ago? Why did she feel weird?
"I… I'm human" Ryoga noted with relief, "that was really weird, glad its…"
"Over?" she interjected, "Did I say that? Cause it ain't. You're gonna change back again."
Ryoga was carved into stone. Staring intently at Ranma, still unaware of his nakedness. He could not afford to ignore what she was telling him, but he could not tolerate any more catastrophes. He compromised by making an earnest imitation of a statue.
"You gotta Jusenkyo curse. Water's the trigger. Cold turns it on, and hot water makes you a human again."
Ranma could almost taste the lost boy's hopelessness, like a stew of bitter loss and leaden melancholy. She had to lean in towards him to hear his next words, his state of undress and her previous discomfort forgotten.
"…no… can't be true… how could my life get any worse?"
He pulled out yet another flask. This time out from under his bandana, and poured could water on himself.
The Pig sat in the deepest pit. His body so heavy with despair the ground buckled underneath him. He was sure now, the Kami really did hate him.
As hard as it was for Ranma to believe, Ryoga's mood seemed to be rapidly worsening. She was actually starting to feel worried. She made her best effort to be consoling.
"Ryoga, it ain't as bad as my curse! Stop moping!"
Not surprisingly her misphrased concerned words made the piglet furious.
She was tackled to the ground by the furious animal. It bit her nose.
"AAAAAAAAARG! GET OFFA ME! PORK-BUTT!"
She smashed the porcine assassin of her. While Ryoga was still dazed she leapt onto him and tried to encircle her hands around him. Her new body was rather petite and she found it impossible to restrain the struggling martial artist piglet with her dainty digits.
"OW! OW! OW! OW! OW!"
Her entire arm was a blur. No matter how violently she gyrated her limbs the goddamn animal wouldn't shake off. Shit! That really hurts! She was spinning like a top at breakneck speed. Maybe the centrifugal force would send him flying? But, it wasn't working, the porcine wristband was still gnawing on her as tenaciously as before. She spun still faster, until she lost control and flung the both of them through the fire and into the thermos. The rest of the hot water poured on them both, producing no noticeable change in Ranma, but a very radical one in Ryoga.
Ranma was staring into the hazel eyes of a very hunky teenage boy, her hand clutched between his teeth and her breasts pressed against his chest. The dousing of hot water had not produced any new clothes. Ryoga was still au natural, so the awkwardness from before was repeated again, only worse. She was lying splayed on top of him. She could feel a mixture of confusion and a hot, musky feeling emanating from him, and was lost as to how to interpret it. Her own strange feelings were only intensified by their physical contact. Ryoga didn't know what to think. He was naked, and caught somewhere between first and second base with the most stunning woman he had ever personally encountered, but she was Ranma. He hates Ranma. Damn you Ranma! This is all your fault!
They spent a lengthy moment remaining layered on top of each other, waiting for the other to react. They did so simultaneously, and separated in the blink of an eye, blushing violently.
"RYOGA! PUT SOMETHIN' ON!"
Ryoga did as he was commanded efficiently. When he was finished he turned dangerously, his eyes glinting with a snarl. He directed his glare toward the girl seated a few yards away from him. She was blushing so hard he could see red on the tips of her ears, peaking out from under her hair. He had not forgotten the source of his ire, merely misdirected it.
Ranma picked up the change in his mood instantly. This impassy thing is really alarming, but useful, she grudgingly admitted to herself. She watched the lost boy stomp toward her, leaving small craters in his wake. Her blush drained away, leaving behind only annoyance. He was finally standing before her, restraining poorly controlled rage. She didn't even bother to look up.
"RANMA! THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!"
Ryoga wasn't prepared for this question.
"Um… all of it?"
This really pissed her off! She launched herself to her feet, an electric aura erupting around her, her glare would have been only inches away from Ryoga's eyes, had she not been so short, startling him.
"Look shit-for-brains! I didn't curse you- I tried to warn you! Yeah? I waited days for ya to arrive at the lot! I… didn't… even… sleep… Porky!" Every syllable was punctuated by a jab of her accusing finger. She panted furious gusts of air until she had caught enough breath to continue her tirade. Her hands were shaking. "Ya know what else? When we went to school together I helped you. You couldn't never gone ta school without me holdin' your hand, every damn step! …so… WHAT THE FUCK IS YOUR BEEF!?"
Ryoga could only hang his head in shame. It was true, all of it. It wasn't Ranma's fault. Ranma was nice to him in junior high, sort-of. His life wasn't hell, at least he wasn't stuck as a pig; it was just getting real close to it.
"…you… said you're stuck?"
Ranma was confused by Ryoga's volatile mood swings, but she was still willing to humor him. He seemed genuinely repentant; she could sense his regret and honesty. So she responded civilly.
"Oh, yeah… um" Ranma gestured toward the worn TV, "Ya see that broken down thing? My actual body is the tape in there, and it can't get wet. This…" She used a sweeping hand motion to indicate her shapely body "Is my projection thing." She paused for a moment as if to collect her thoughts. "Ryoga, you can't let the TV get wet. It could really hurt me. I could go…" she couldn't think of an appropriate word, so she used a noise instead. "BZZZZZZT!"
Ryoga nodded his head and restored eye contact. He understood. Now the nonsense that old man had been spouting was starting to make sense.
"No problem, TV's waterproof."
He lost himself in thought. He got lost in a lot of things. He returned to the topic at hand.
"How did I… fall?"
"The guide threw a rock at ya. Knocked ya out real quick. Then you just kinda… sank."
Ryoga said nothing.
"Hey, Bacon-Bitts, ya gonna say somethin'?"
"DON'T CALL ME THAT!"
Ranma waited for him to continue
"So, this is somebody's fault… Guide-Person! PREPARE TO DIE!"
Ranma was not on the best of terms with the Jusenkyo Guide either, so she made no effort to dissuade him. In her opinion, he actually deserved a good thrashing. But then Ryoga started stalking off, aimlessly, into the night. That was not going to work out.
"Hey! You don't want another curse, do ya?" That got Ryoga's attention. "Just stop wanderin' off and go ta sleep. We'll beat the Fat-Ass tomorrow."
Ryoga rotated his face, leveling his wild gaze at her. His eyes would be better suited for a wolverine than a human teenager.
"Why do you care?"
Ranma cocked her head and flashed a sarcastic smirk, crossing her arms under her breasts.
"Cause I'm your Video Girl, stupid."
Ryoga seemed satisfied by that answer. He walked back to the center of the clearing while Ranma watched him, bouncing on her heels. He pulled out his sleeping bag and fell onto it, face down, not bothering to get inside it. Despite planting his face into the smothering cover of his sleeping bag, it was obvious that he wasn't going to sleep well tonight. Ranma could sense the weight oppressing his consciousness.
Ranma had no sleeping bag. Ryoga hadn't known that he was embarking on a trip for two. She settled back onto a soft bed of moss, trying to get as comfortable as was possible on cold earth. She wondered if she would be able to fall asleep either. So much had happened, so fast. She was a mind reader; of that much she was certain. She had a much deeper understanding of Ryoga's inner thoughts than could be simply be gleaned from reading battle auras. What was most troubling, though, was that she only shared this connection with him, and him alone.
Apparently her fears of being a weak girl were unfounded. Her battle with Ryoga was impressive, she didn't feel handicapped at all. She knew that Ryoga was also a lot more skilled than before. Then what was going to change?, besides the obvious change in appearance? That Hans Vittlesbach guy said she was going to simulate female biology. What does that mean?
The ground was uncomfortable. And her… breasts… prevented her from sleeping on her belly, as she normally preferred when sleeping on dirt. She rolled onto her back. The pressure on her shoulders was irritating, but not as much as it had been on her… breasts… They were big, really big. She could not hope to disguise herself as a man with those. They would be impossible to hide.
"Take my bag"
"Ranma, take my sleeping bag."
Ranma rolled onto her left shoulder and propped up her head on one arm. She looked at Ryoga increadulously.
"Take your bag? Why?"
Ryoga's gaze held gentle concern. It contrasted heavily with the brutal cast to his features, but still made him look endearing.
"You look uncomfortable, maybe you'll sleep if you had a bag."
"Don't just start bein' all nice to me, Porky. I'm not some girl."
Ryoga now looked annoyed
"I'm just trying to be nice! I've been really stupid before!"
"No kiddin'" Ranma rolled her eyes.
"Just take the goddamn bag!"
"You're supposed to make me happier, right?" Ryoga explained as he got off of the sleeping bag and offered it to her. "Well… I'll be happier if you take this bag, OK?"
Ranma couldn't argue with that, and didn't really want to. She took the bag from Ryoga, who was smirking at his own cleverness. As she got in it she glanced at him and said,
"Good night, Bacon-butt"
"Good night, Doll-face"
They both drifted off into troubled sleep, smiling at their dark humor. It's good to have a friend.
Finally, one of my stories has a second chapter. Hope you guys enjoy it. I'm still very impressed with the response I have gotten so far. I understand that Ranma and the Genie is the slightly more popular story, but this story is the priority right now. I have no beta readers. I'm not sure how beta readers work, I'm still new to this, but anyone who can explain to me how to find one, or would like to be one, give me a holler.
If the explanation of Ranma's condition, or her relationship with Genma is unclear, I would like some feedback.
I have other story ideas for fanfics. If you like my stuff, and want it to go a little faster, I am willing to collaborate on these other projects. So potential Beta-readers and Co-authors, keep that in mind.
Charles Townshend was cool.